5 Holiday Gift Ideas for Employees

You know the person who always comes bearing gifts and they’re always great gifts? I don’t consider myself to be one of those people. But a well-timed, thoughtful gift to employees, especially during the holidays, can be a huge morale boost. What a perfect time to celebrate all of the great work everyone did during the past year — especially this year!

It’s with this in mind that I asked for gift ideas during a recent customer experience question of the day (CXQOTD). In this article, I’ll share the five major themes that emerged.

Idea #1 – Give the gift of time and wellness

Rather than giving material possessions, give unexpected time off, allowing employees to rest and rejuvenate. A couple of years ago, my boss rewarded our team with Black Friday off even though it wasn’t a company holiday and it was a wonderful surprise. In our contact center, we’ve also waited until volume slowed and sent people home early for a similar effect. 

Sean Hawkins says, “In light of the current situation, be patient, kind, and understanding. No better time to practice what you preach than now. Make time for them, give them time to exhale, and focus on their wellness.”

Idea #2 – Give appreciation and gratitude

Michelle Prue says, “The gift of words, appreciation, and gratitude is the best gift you can give to your employees. The employees’ direct leader should take the initiative to recognize their team’s contribution and celebrate their team’s success.”

How can one best show appreciation? Stacy Sherman offers several great suggestions in this blog post including sending hand-written thank you notes to employees and having the company CEO send a recorded message out to everyone. 

Randy Nanjad points out that, “This is one of those years where a personal phone call to each employee by an influential leader or mentor will make the world of difference.” Certainly, you can choose between the recorded greeting or the personal phone call based on the size of your company.

Idea #3 – Give knowledge

I love the idea of investing in the learning and development of employees. Ben Motteram says, “Choose a book for each employee individually. Then give them space to decompress over the holidays.” When asked for recommendations here were some of his book ideas:

Need more book recommendations? I asked for CX book recommendations on the CXQOTD on December 16 and here are some terrific lists that were shared.

No, the books don’t have to be business books. If you know your staff well, find out their favorite genre and give a book that matches their interests. You might also consider signing them up for an online course or conference to show you are investing in their career development.

Idea #4 – Give food and drink

A well-time lunch or snack in the office is an excellent idea under normal circumstances — but we’re not currently in normal circumstances. Services like DoorDash make it easy to order food and have it delivered to each employee at their home. I’ve heard of some companies eating that meal together virtually. You can also send a gift card to a restaurant so employees can enjoy a meal with their family.

This year, our company owners drove around leaving bottles of wine at the doorsteps of each employee. Of course, they ran off before anyone could notice. That was a lot of fun!

Idea #5 – Give a bonus

I love it that Kaye Chapman unashamedly says, “Can I be controversial here and say a good old-fashioned Christmas bonus? We all work for money so it’s rare that it wouldn’t be appreciated and make a difference. Notes of appreciation, gifts and time off might not be so widely helpful.”

I think Kaye is onto something here. Amid a time of job uncertainty and unemployment for many, putting extra cash into the pockets of employees could be a real difference-maker.

As I conclude, these are five solid ways to show your employees that you appreciate them this holiday season. I’ll leave you with a few points to make the most difference as you give:

  1. You don’t need to pick just one of these ideas. The more you can show appreciation, the better. Consider doing two or three of these.
  2. Personalize the gift to each employee as much as possible so they know it’s from the heart.
  3. Do something different than you’ve done in past years so it feels unique and special, not routine and entitled.

Leave a comment below and show how your company showed appreciation to employees this year. And if I haven’t said it before, I appreciate you taking time this year to read our blog. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

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Jeremy Watkin is Director of Customer Experience and Support at NumberBarn. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service and contact center professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, product marketing, social media, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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